All posts by Deardra Shuler

Deardra Shuler has experience in theatre, music, concert promotion, television and publishing. She was affiliated with the Negro Ensemble Company and is a former manager of the children’s theatre,”TADA.” She has produced and promoted concerts in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall. Ms. Shuler is the former Editor and Managing Editor of three New York City minority newspapers. Presently, she is the Entertainment Editor of The Black Star News. As a freelance writer she writes for several New York City newspapers; including the Examiner, Amsterdam News and Eurweb. Deardra has columns in Sweden and in California. She is the former PR chairman for the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa, and is presently program manager for BlakeRadio.com where she also hosts her own show "Topically Yours."
Judy Torres

People of Note: Judy Torres, Sugar Hill Gang & Others Part of ‘Forever Freestyle 9′ at Lehman Center

Judy Torres

Judy Torres

*Producer Sal Abbatiello of Fever Records is once again bringing Latin freestyle music to the stage via his “Forever Freestyle 9″ show which takes place in the Bronx, at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, on Saturday, March 7th at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets for the popular show go quickly so fans should get to the box office before the show is sold out. Featured this year, will be Latin freestyle artists: TKA/K7, Judy Torres, The Cover Girls, Noel, Lisette Melendez, Rob Base, Soave, Coro, Nocerra, George Lamond, and Sugar Hill Gang.

Also featured is Lucho, DJ Solo and The Whiteboy DJ KYS. Hosts for the show are Speedy and producer Sal Abbatiello.

The Queen of Freestyle, Judy Torres, took the time on a 27 degree winter day to chat with me.

“The Freestyle show is always lots of fun. The Bronx fans come out at Lehman Center, and performing with my fellow artists always feels like we are getting together for an annual party. There is nothing like performing in the Bronx. I was born in the Bronx and lived there until I was 25. I had some of my best and worst memories there,” said the singer who attended St. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic school then eventually went on to Lehman College.

Ms. Torres reflected on the early days of her career.

“I was obsessed about being a singer and I kept wondering why I hadn’t been discovered. I was a teenager but I performed in talent shows and occasionally in night clubs around my area, impatiently hoping someone would discover me. I was doing a gong show in a tiny club where the singers were supposed to sing badly but they all sang well. So, I decided to sing like Edith Bunker of the show All In the Family. A judge attempted to gong me but I was joking and the audience got that, so (they) stopped him. After the show that same judge approached me stating he wanted to help me. He told me to give him 6 months to get me a paid gig. He advised me I needed original songs, so he introduced me to Micky Garcia who needed his songs recorded. I was given a song entitled Loves Going to Get You.

“One day, at an audition, I met a singer who didn’t like her song which was ‘No Reason to Cry.’ I loved that song and she loved my song, so we switched songs. It took awhile for ‘No Reason to Cry’ to pick up momentum because it wasn’t on the radio but eventually I signed with an independent label and then the song got air play. ‘No Reason to Cry’ became my first hit single. I was 18. Later I went with Profile Records where I rerecorded ‘No Reason to Cry’ under a different mix and sound. I recorded another single called ‘Come into My Arms,’ which did better than No Reason to Cry.”

Torres also recorded “Faithfully” which became a number one hit.

“My career picked up. Bills got paid and I was able to help family,” said Judy recalling the excitement she felt when her song hit.

Cover Girls

Cover Girls

“Many artists have sung, and written songs, that have impacted their lives. “Each song I sing has significance for me,” claimed the freestyle singer.

“Come into My Arms” meant something to me because I co-wrote it and wrote it about someone who broke my heart. My mother told me to use music to help me feel better. I’ve noted that when going through some kind of angst, I write my best material. I think that is when I’m fully present in my feelings,” remarked Judy who in her free time goes into schools to talk with young people about self esteem and the damage caused by bullying. “I also do some acting when I am not singing and have recently started teaching Zumba classes in New Jersey,” mentioned the busy artist.

Ms. Torres recently married in October 2014 and now has a step daughter.

“Marriage has been an adjustment but I love it. My step daughter is a wonderful girl and I love being a mother. I now have a family I didn’t think I was going to have,” remarked Torres who still hosts a show on WKTU from 3:00 to 8:00 pm on Sundays. Formerly her show featured mostly freestyle music but the station has since changed their format to top 40s.

Judy recorded a song in 2010 entitled “Stay” originally a county song told from the perspective of the other woman.

TKAK7

Freestyle is at the heart of Judy’s recordings and she is grateful to Sal Abbatiello of Fever Records for keeping Freestyle music alive.

“Although Freestyle has unfortunately left the radio waves for the most part, it has a devoted fan base. Therefore, Sal who was instrumental in creating the freestyle movement, has kept it alive by providing the venues where and singers who, fans can support via his Freestyle shows. So, whenever Sal calls I am there and enjoy being part of it. I believe I speak for all the freestyle artists when I say that we are grateful for our devoted fans,” said Judy earnestly.

Ms Torres will be part of the Freestyle Forever 9 at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, March 7th at 8:00 pm. Lehman Center is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx where interested parties can get tickets at the Lehman Center Box Office by calling 718-960-8833 or by going on line at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway.  Parking is $5.

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at EURweb.com, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on BlakeRadio.com. Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through Writspirit.com, Linked In, writblog-deardra.blogspot.com, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected].

MJBannerphoto1a

People of Note: VIP ‘Invincible’ MJ Tickets at NJPAC

MJ Banner photo
*Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, sent shock waves throughout the world. “The Man in the Mirror” was “Gone too Soon.” We were grieved and “Sad” and knew there would be no other like Michael Jackson. Unusual, eccentric, exquisite and unbelievably talented, Jackson was an original and shining star. He was the “2000 Watts” that lit up the stage every time he performed. Some claimed he was “2 Bad,” but all agreed he was very, very good. In fact, Michael Jackson was amazing.  Any others attempting to step into Mr. Jackson’s footsteps have to prove their worth by making their presentation nothing less than spectacular.

Now, I don’t “Wanna Be Startin Something,” or maybe I do! But I must say the closest I have seen to a duplication of Michael’s onstage performance are the performers in creator, producer, director, and Bessie Award winner, Darrin Ross’s tribute to Michael Jackson, entitled Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson. If you have never “Ben” to the show, you better “Ease on Down the Road”, and “Beat It” to the box office at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, located at 1 Center Street, in Newark, NJ, where tickets for INVINCIBLE: A GLORIOUS TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON go on sale, Thursday, February 19th and then are open to public sale on Friday, February 20th.

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Each year something new is added, with performances getting better and better. This year promises to be a musical, dance and light-work spectacular. The actual show is to be held at Prudential Hall on June 13, 2015. However, VIP tickets go on pre-sale Thursday, February 19th and on public sale Friday, February 20th due to the enormous popularity of the show. Fans can obtain tickets by calling the NJPAC box office at 888-GO NJPAC (466-5722) or can go on line at www.njpac.org.

Purchasers who call the box office for show tickets and VIP tickets should mention the code MJLOVE since only 200 VIP tickets are available. The price for a VIP ticket is $100 and gets you the best seats, as well as an after show meet and greet reception, a personal photo with the artists and an exclusive sixth anniversary INVINCIBLE show poster.

I have witnessed fans getting so wrapped up in the dynamics of the show, they go crazy and Shout “We Love You, Michael!!!,” indicating there is no Xscape from the excitement of the show which is a real Thriller. The multi-media live performance of this sixth anniversary exclusive is a moving extravaganza…so I suggest you get your tickets soon before they are all gone! In fact, if you enjoyed Michael Jackson’s Immortal World Tour, you will love the Invincible Tribute to Michael Jackson and know you simply Got to Be There.

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The producers of the show claim “Invincible” is the only show that brings back the spirit and the essence of seeing Michael Jackson Live again onstage. Impersonator Pete Carter is a master dancer who reenacts the unique dances for which Jackson was so famous when alive. In fact, the Invincible show features different talent who portray Michael at different stages of his dynamic career, showcasing the superstar’s greatest hits including “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” Smooth Criminal,””Man In The Mirror” and “Slave To The Rhythm” via hologram recreation and so much more.  This show has the only MJ impersonators in the world who can sing, dance and look hauntingly like Michael Jackson.

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After seeing and listening to Live concert performer, Jeffrey Perez sing and Pete Carter dance in “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson,” fans have claimed they felt a “Euphoria” as if they were watching the King once again performing live in front of them. The world class dance company enthralls viewers in “Smooth Criminal,” et al, as does the Grammy Award winning, Harlem GospeLive vocalists, Vocal Percussion genius, Anointed S, master musicians and varied percussionists. There will be special guests yet to be revealed, who make this tribute to Michael Jackson nothing short of extraordinary. So, put Saturday, June 13th at 8:00 pm on your calendars and “Come Together” at NJPAC, so you do not miss “Invincible” the Michael Jackson Fan Extravaganza of the Season.

 

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at EURweb.com, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on BlakeRadio.com. Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through Writspirit.com, Linked In, writblog-deardra.blogspot.com, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected]

Maestro Enrique Batiz celebrates Valentine's Day with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico

People of Note: Lehman Center Celebrates Valentine’s Day With Classical Mexican Music

Maestro Enrique Batiz celebrates Valentine's Day with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico

Maestro Enrique Batiz celebrates Valentine’s Day with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico

*With With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, the cost of flowers and candy will go higher. People will look to take their love ones out to a nice dinner. Babysitters will be called so married couples can spend some quiet time together. Love costs. However, if you want beauty and music combined, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts has renowned conductor and Musical Director, Enrique Batiz, directing the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico this Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14th at 8:00 pm. With tickets prices ranging from $35, $30 and $25, you can even take your children, ages 12 and under, for the special price of $10.

The Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico (Symphony Orchestra of the State of Mexico) was founded in 1971 through the initiative of the government of the State of Mexico and Maestro Enrique Batiz. It was formed with the purpose of promoting unity and identification for the citizens of the state of Mexico through music. And indeed the orchestra has become a cultural gem and a source of pride in the city of Toluca where it is based. The orchestra features a wide range of music which includes traditional Spanish and Mexican music as well as the classics. Music lovers can hear Verdi and Beethovan, and included within the Lehman Center program, the audience can enjoy “Three Spanish Dances” (Enrique Granados), “Noches en los Jardines de Espana” (Manuel de Falla) and “Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68” (Johannes Brahms).

Piano soloist Irina Chistiakova

Piano soloist Irina Chistiakova

Led by acclaimed conductor and musical director Enrique Bátiz, the performance will feature rising star piano soloist Irina Chistiakova. The Symphony Orchestra of the State of Mexico is noted for its endeavor to carry its musical message to all the corners of its country and municipalities of its state. In fact, Enrique Batiz, the Orchestra’s chief conductor, musical and artistic director, who has the double heritage of Mexican and Polish, has been repeatedly honored and is considered one of the most famous conductors in Latin America. Born in Mexico City, Batiz began playing the piano at 8 years old. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and then continued his studies at Julliard School of Music in New York City. He began touring extensively in the United States in1964 as a pianist, and from 1965-1971 toured throughout Europe both as a soloist and featured performer with major orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic and the London Symphony.

In 1971, Maestro Bátiz founded the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México and was its conductor and musical director for 12 years (1971-1983) before moving to the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years (1983-1989). In 1990, he returned to the Orquesta Sinfónica, where he continues to this day. The enthusiastic conductor has guest conducted over 500 symphony orchestras worldwide and has a musical catalogue that ranges from classical to contemporary music.

Joining the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico on the Lehman Center stage February 14th, is the renowned Irina Chistiakova. Ms. Chistiakova was born in Moscow, Russia, and in 1996 was admitted into the piano program at the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatoire for Music. A child prodigy, she began performing Chopin as a soloist at the conservatory’s Grand Hall. By the age of eleven, she had already played concert halls throughout Russia, Germany and France and had won awards as both a soloist and in a duet with her older sister Galina, also a talented pianist, including a Double Laureate in the Russian “New Names” Competition.

In 2000 Irina was the star of the Irene Langemann film “Russlands Wunderkinder” and was also featured in Langemann’s follow-up film “The Competitors: Russian Children Prodigy 2.” She won many prestigious awards and piano competitions, even a gold medal. Irina graduated with honors from the Moscow State Conservatoire in 2013 and when she is not touring and recording, she is doing her postgraduate studies there and at the University of Arts in Berlin, Germany. As a result of her musical brilliance, Enrique Bátiz invited her to become a regular guest soloist with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México.

Lehman Center

Interested parties can purchase tickets by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 (Monday through Thursday, 10am–5pm), or through online access at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx, NY and is accessible by the #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Parking is $5.

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at EURweb.com, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on BlakeRadio.com. Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through Writspirit.com, Linked In, writblog-deardra.blogspot.com, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected]m.

Maggie Baird's real life son, Finneas O'Connell stars with his mother in Life Inside Out

People of Note: Life Inside Out at the Quad

Life Inside Out

Life Inside Out

*When actress Maggie Baird, writer Lori Nasso and director Jill D’Agnenica put their heads together to make and produce a film about a middle aged woman named Laura who wants to realize her creative dreams in the midst of growing financial problems, little did they know they would experience the same risks, hard work and exhilaration via the making of their film, “Life Inside Out.”

This independent film made on a shoe string budget has all the appeal one looks for in a film. It is well made and it tells a story every day people can relate to. Even though it seems film distributors did not agree, thus forcing the filmmakers to take alternative routes to get the film into theaters. Presently it is being featured for a limited engagement until January 22nd at the Quad Cinema, located at 34 West 13th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., in NYC.

There was a Q&A held after the movie by interviewer Richard Skipper that gave audience members the opportunity to speak to the actors and filmmakers.

Many of us have heard the expression “Art Imitates Life,” and that adage can be applied to the making of this lovely Indy film, Life Inside Out, which became a family affair with Baird’s real life son and husband playing roles in the movie. Baird’s own son Finneas O’Connell plays her son, Shane in the movie as does her real life husband, Patrick O’Connell. Patrick plays the role of Skip, the music store owner who opens the door to a new life for Maggie’s character Laura, by referring her to an open mike club, where Laura realizes her dream and eventually helps her moody 15-year old son, Shane, do the same.

Maggie Baird in Life Inside Out.

Maggie Baird in Life Inside Out.

Written by Maggie Baird and Lori Nasso, the film reveals a typical family, with Laura the frustrated mother of three boys and loving partner to husband, Mike, (David Cowfill). Mike is barely able to make ends meet and needs Laura to help pull the weight. He loves Laura’s songwriting and singing talent and is supportive when she picks up her guitar again after years of putting it aside to raise a family. But he really needs Laura to supplement the family income. Unemployed, Laura does whatever she can to bring in money. She bakes and helps her sister with her photo book scrap making business, even though she hates it. Singing is the only thing that allows Laura to grab her moment in the sun.

Laura’s two sports loving sons take after their father, but 15 year old Shane, is cut from another cloth and takes after his mother. Misunderstood by his family and peers, Shane, is a moody teen in search of self, just as is middle aged mother is also in search of her own self. She gets the chance to rediscovery her talent after answering an open mike ad in the record store that leads her to a club run by Sam played by Goh Nakamura. It is there that Laura blossoms and hones her craft and it is here she and Shane share common interests, strengthening their bond.

Cast members include William Dennis Hunt, Roscoe Brandon, Orson Ossman, Joe Hart, Emma Bell, Yogi Lonich, Xenia, Alexandra Wilson, Emily Jordan, Kalilah Harris, John Bain and Frank Gangarossa, et al.

Maggie Baird's real life son, Finneas O'Connell stars with his mother in Life Inside Out

Maggie Baird’s real life son, Finneas O’Connell stars with his mother in Life Inside Out

Laura’s life does not change substantially but it becomes satisfying and along the way she sees positive things about herself and her family that turns her Life Inside Out.

I recommend this movie and implore movie goers to  implore movie goers to catch Life Inside Out before it leaves the theater. It will be at Cinema Quad until January 22nd. Also, non-New Yorkers who wish to see the movie can write Netflix and ask they include Life Inside Out in their cache of movies.

Deardra Shuler is a well published journalist who has profiled celebrities and written about people of note for many years. In addition to her column at EURweb.com, she is the host of her radio show “Topically Yours” on BlakeRadio.com. Interested parties can acquire info regarding Deardra through Writspirit.com, Tagged.com, Facebook and Google. Contact her via: [email protected].

The Duprees2015a

People of Note: Doo-Wop Returns to Lehman Center in 2015

The Duprees2015a

The Duprees

*Doo-wop is a genre of harmonizing vocals that came out of cities like New York, Philadelphia, Newark and Detroit, et al. A music style birthed out of African American neighborhoods initially in the 1940s, Doo-wop gained popularity in the 1950s and early ’60s, even attracting Italian groups who shared a love for the music. Built upon vocal harmony, doo-wop consisted of simple lyrics, beats and harmonies, often done a cappella. Currently, doo-wop lovers will have the opportunity to hear the styling of such well known denizens of the doo-wop genre such as The Duprees, the Platters, Barbara Harris and the Toys, Larry Chance and the Earls, the Belmonts and Ragdoll who will be performing on Saturday, January 24th at 8:00 p.m., at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located on the Lehman College campus, at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx.

barbara-harris-the-toys

Barbara Harris and the Toys

I caught up with Tony Testa of the Duprees who talked about his sojourn with the group. “I have vivid memories of the early days of Doo-wop. I got involved with the Duprees around 1964 or ‘65 as a guitarist and led the band for a number of years. That is how I got to know the Duprees originally” recalled Testa. “Back then, there were a couple of things that made a perfect blend at the time. There was the fact that these groups had a wonderful knowledge of and appreciation for the music that preceded them; music that came out of the 40s and big band era. The other thing is their hook-up with George Paxton who was the owner of Coed Records. Mr. Paxton came from that big band era so he was the one who integrated that wonderful blend of music reminiscent of the Glenn Miller orchestra behind the youthful exuberant vocals of that time. That melding was so unique it still has great appeal today. It is wonderful to see the faces of the audiences today reacting to music which is over 50 years old,” continued the singer.

TheBelmonts 400

The Belmonts

 

Although some groups had members who studied music, many were just natural singers inviting their buddies to band together to harmonize, each being assigned a specific part. “All you needed was 2 or 3 of your buddies to get together and chimed up as they called it. We would use a simple harmony like 1, 3, 5. Street corner songs like In the Still of the Night and Hushabye were the types of songs we sang,” remarked the vocalist.

Groups sang songs that were fun to sing and simple in structure, making it appealing and easy for street corner pickup groups to do. That was the generation of groups like the Duprees, the Vogues and the Lettermen, etc., who evolved rhythms into more sophisticated harmonies later on.

The Platters

The Platters

Tesla agreed many were influenced by the music from church. “I remember vividly when growing up standing outside a Black Church that was around the corner from us. Me and a few of my friends enjoyed listening to that music and felt as if the music absolutely went through our bones because it was so inviting and so emotional. I think it was the springboard to a lot of my appreciation for music,” stated Tony who with his fellow Duprees consisting of Jimmy Spinelli, Tommy Petillo and Phil Granito replaced the original Duprees Joey Van Canzano, Mike Kelly, John Salvato, Tom Bialoglow, Joe Santollo and Mike Arnone, 3 of whom have passed.

“You know the term doo-wop is a bit of a misnomer. The term never came about until way past the 1960s with the advent of multi-act shows through the 70s and into the 80s where they put under this umbrella the term doo-wop. Doo-wop describes the street corner singing. They still use the term widely to tag groups that are not really doo-wop at all,” claims Tesla who also expands on the Duprees musical songbook and variation, thereby recently paying tribute to Frank Sinatra via their current CD entitled “Happy 100th Mr. Sinatra.”

The Duprees made songs famous such as “My Own True Love,” “Take Me As I Am,” “Why Don’t You Believe Me,” “Have You Heard,” “Love Eyes,” “It Isn’t Fair.” “Let Them Talk” and “You Belong to Me.”

Fans interested in hearing my BlakeRadio interview with Tony Tesla can do so via http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio/2015/01/13/topically-yours–the-duprees-tony-testa or who wish to purchase tickets to the Doo-wop show hosted by Johnny Z of WFAS 1230AM, and producer Sal Abbatiello of Fever Records at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts can call the box office at 718-960-8833 or go on line via www.LehmanCenter.org.

 

Hadley Founder turns 100

Hadley Players Founder Turns 100

Hadley Founder turns 100

Hadley Players Founder Gertrude Jeannette turns 100

*The founder of the H.A.D.L.E.Y Players, Gertrude Jeannette, who was born November 28, 1914, celebrated her 100th birthday at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem on Sunday, November 30th where theater people, friends, press and community folks came out to honor Gertrude and remember her birthday.

A playwright, actress, director and producer in her own right, Gertrude has appeared on both stage and screen. She appeared on radio and performed on Broadway in Tennessee Williams “Vieux Carre.” Also in “The Skin of our Teeth,” “The Great White Hope,” “Lost in the Stars.” “Amen Corner,” “Nobody Loves an Albatross “and “The Great White Hope,” et al.

In film, Ms. Jeanette was memorable in “The Legend of Nigger Charlie,” “Black Girl,” and appeared in “Shaft,” “and “Cotton Comes to Harlem.”  She has lent her talents to both film shorts and documentaries. A playwright in her own right, Gertrude wrote plays like: A Bolt from the Blue, Light in the Cellar, Glady’s Dilemma, This Way Forward, and Who’s Mama’s Baby, Who’s Daddy’s Child? She has also featured and directed the works of other playwrights.

Gertrude and Hadley Players former Artistic Dir. Ward Nixon

Gertrude and Hadley Players former Artistic Dir. Ward Nixon

Born in Urbana, Arkansas, Gertrude made Harlem, NY, her home. An innovator, in 1935 she became the first woman to get a license to operate a motor cycle and later became the first female cab driver in New York City. Jeannette received the Harlem Business Recognition Award from the National Council of Negro Women. She was honored as a Living Legend by the National Black Theater Festival in Winston Salem, NC . She received the Outstanding Pioneer Award from AUDELCO in 1984. She also received the AT&T and Black American Newspaper 1987 Personality of the Year Award. She was inducted into the Hatch-Billops Oral History Collection by the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture. As well as inducted into Philadelphia’s Bush­fire Theatre Walk of Fame. The Giving Back Corporation endowed her with their 2004 Giving Back Award, and Gertrude was given the 2006 Professional Women’s Award from the Riverside Club/National Negro Business and Professional Women organization. She received the Standing on Our Shoulders Award from the Delta Sigma Theta, Bronx Chapter, and the Lionel Hampton Legacy Award for her outstanding work in the Harlem community.  In 2002, Gertrude Jeannette received the prestigious Paul Robeson Award from Actor’s Equity. She was also honored by Harlem Is…Living History, an educational project by Community Works.

Photographer Ronnie Wright with actress/singer Ebony Jo-Ann

Photographer Ronnie Wright with actress/singer Ebony Jo-Ann

Letters wishing Ms. Jeannette “Happy Birthday” came from Congressman Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright, State Senator Bill Perkins and Councilwoman Inez Dickens. The Master of Ceremony was producer Voza Rivers. Ebony Jo-Ann sang “You Will Never Grow Old.”

The Classical Productions led by Patricia Hancock Rogers sang a medley of Gertrude’s favorite songs. The invocation was done by actress, comedian and reverend Dorothy Fox. Among the guests were former HADLEY Players Artistic Director Ward Nixon, actors Albert Eggleston, Ralph McCain, photographer Ronnie Wright, Don Thomas (NY Beacon), Woodie King (New Federal Theater), Patricia White, Elizabeth Van Dyke, David Downing, Hazel Smith, Vinie Burrows, organizer Margaret Jackson, Sirlouis Jones, Shirley Scott, Micki Grant, Mary B. Davis, Johnnie Mae, Joe B. Hunt, Barbara Horowitz, Larry Thorp, June Terry, Janice Jenkins, Louise Mike, Dee Dixon, director Eric Coleman, Margery Johnson, Kimberly Monroe, playwrights Roger Parris and J.E. Franklin.

Friends of Gertrude celebrating her birthday

Friends of Gertrude celebrating her birthday

Many of the attendees have presented their plays and/or appeared in some of the Hadley Productions. Others were supporters and long time friends. People such as actress Joan Valentina, Cherryl Thomas, Ms. Bobbi Willis, Kim Weston-Moran, journalists Joan Allen, Peter Cooper and Michael J. Feeney, actress Johnnie Mae, Tommie Thompson, Kelly Marie Berry, costumer Kathy Roberson, Ed Lawrence, Debbie McIntire, Ajene Washington, Alice Garcia, Michelle Wilson (Ms Jeannette’s great niece), Alvin Alexis, Juanita Howard, Loretta Abbott, and Lillian Harrison came out to celebrate Gertrude’s 100th birthday milestone.

Ms. Jeannette appeared to have a lovely time and invited all her guests back to her 110th birthday party to do it all over again. God willing Gertrude, we’ll all be there.